CCPC urges consumer caution of ‘donation claims’ when shopping for personal protective products online

April 20, 2020

Follows increasing number of online traders claiming product donations to healthcare providers which is not a guarantee of standards or suitability

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is advising consumers to be cautious of ‘donation claims’ made by traders when shopping for personal protective products online, such as face masks and hand sanitizer.

An increasing number of online traders appear to be informing consumers that personal protective products they are selling have been donated to hospitals and other healthcare providers. In many cases, it is unclear as to whether or not these donated protective products are suitable for use in healthcare settings. The CCPC is concerned that such claims are likely to influence consumers when they are considering purchasing such products. Claims relating to a product being donated to healthcare service providers should not be considered as an indication of suitability or standards and such claims may present a significant risk to consumers.

If a consumer is considering buying hand sanitising products and they are concerned, they can check The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine’s register for biocidal products.  Only notified and authorised products listed on the Department’s register are legal for sale and use in Ireland.

The European Commission has also recently published advice to consumers, it says that consumers should be cautious if traders:

  • Use language or images in their marketing which explicitly or implicitly suggest that a product is able to prevent or cure COVID-19 infection.
  • Make reference to self-declared doctors, health professionals, experts or other unofficial sources stating that a product is able to prevent or cure an infection with the new virus.
  • Refer by name or logo to government authorities, official experts or international institutions which have allegedly endorsed the protective or curative claims without providing hyperlinks or references to official documents.
  • Use scarcity claims such as “only available today”, “sell out fast” or similar.
  • Inform about market conditions such as “lowest price on the market”, “only product that can cure COVID-19 infections” or similar.
  • Use prices that are well above the normal price for similar products due to the fact that they would allegedly prevent or cure COVID-19 infection.

The CCPC is actively monitoring compliance with current consumer protection law requirements, including commercial practices which are misleading to consumers, for example, making a representation that a product is able to cure an illness when it cannot.  We encourage any consumer that encounters misleading practices or experiences difficulties with a trader to contact us by visiting ccpc.ie so that we can advise them of their rights.

For full details on all consumer rights when shopping online visit the CCPC’s dedicated consumer hub.

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